First snorkel/spear fishing adventure of 2010

Around here getting in the ocean is a way of life.  I can see people swimming in the ocean every day during the summer time.  While there are only a few beaches here, this does not stop them from making the most of natural swimming holes that are formed around and within the lava rocks that make up the rocky lining of this island.  I have seen swimming holes with sliding boards and diving boards that go rick from the rocks into the ocean, and then stairs and ladders lining the rocks as well.
This past weekend, a group of us decided to head out spear fishing.  This is a common hobby around here, and many of the guys from Ryan's work do this too.  So, a group of us crazy Americans went out in the ocean despite it not quite being that warm yet or really even the swimming season.

The water was very calm in most places.  When we passed by Angra there were tons of little sail boats all along the coast.  We wound up at a swimming hole are in Cinco Ribeiras all the way across the island.  Here are some pictures of the area where we were in the water, taken from up above before we walked down to the water.
We first tried to enter here but there were tons of jelly fish there so we instead went to the area on the other side, which is pictured above.
Since I did not want to ruin my new camera, I used my camera phone for these shots, and also as a result, I do not have pictures of me in my gear.  To snorkel out there safely I use a 5 mm wet suit, a hood, booties, gloves, prescription (I wear glasses) snorkel mask with a nice snorkel, I have my fins, and I carry a knife.  My buoy is on the way.  This time there was another female out there and she took a picture of me in the water, so as soon as I get that picture, I will post it.  The guys spear fish, and I just snorkel, watch them, and take pictures when there is a water proof camera present.  In order to fish like this, they need a license granted by the local government (I think, or the local fishing authority).  Then they have a special spear gun with a buoy attached that also contains a metal piece where they string the fish that they catch.  The wet suit makes you really buoyant, so the guys wear weight belts to allow them to free dive.  It is actually neat to be able to watch them "hunt" the fish.  Last summer I was able to watch Ryan catch a fish.  He has all cleaned and cooked fish he has caught and we have eaten them for dinner.

I will say that the water was freezing and super murky, but I got in anyway just to have made my first trip in for the year.  Getting out was tough because the tide was changing and the current was a little stronger and the waves at our entry point were rougher than when we got in.  It took me two tries to be able to get back out.  The idea was to time it just right so that the water was calm when you approached the stairs.  Usually this spot is a swimming area with 2 diving boards, but these were not set up yet.  If people are actually there swimming, you can't fish there.

This was an old church that was at the top of the hill where we parked.  You can see how gray it was outside.
Right at this location is a restaurant, so after after we got out, we were so hungy and decided to go rest, warm up and refuel our bodies here.
Plus, the view here is right on the ocean and you can spot the islands of Sao Jorge and Pico, well on a clear day at least.
I ordered a cheese omelette and French fries.
Then I had a coffee to warm myself up.
After we ate, some other members of our group that had stayed in to keep fishing, let us know some very experienced local spear fisherman caught tons of fish.  We went to check it out.  Here you can see the veja (red colored fish) and a baracuda.  The baracuda are common around here and I have even seen these for sale at the local grocery store.
The guy also caught a moray eel.  That is the long yellow and black one.  It actually bit the guy and he was bleeding.  These are not nice eels and are much worse to deal with than the baracuda.  The baracudas here are a different breed and are not really a problem, but these morays are.  I can't believe he caught one.
When we got home, it was time to prepare for the first bull fight of the year.  I have tons of pictures to share and will explain the whole process in another post.  Ryan and I use our outdoor kitchen as an area to clean and hose down our snorkel and fishing gear.  Since I did not get a picture this time of me in my suit, I did snap a picture of my gear hanging up outside so you can get an idea.  This is my wetsuit, fins and booties, and the spear gun is Ryan's, of course.
Over the course of the summer I will post more on my snorkel adventures.

QUESTIONS:  Do you have any questions for me about snorkeling, the marine life here or spear fishing?  Have you ever been snorkeling?  Have you ever been scuba diving?  Do you like to fish?


FoodFitnessFreshair said...

At first when I read baracuda, I was like what!!! Good to hear they aren't the killer kind or that would totally freak me out about swimming/fishing in the ocean. I love swimming, and wish I lived closer to the water so that it could be a way of life for me. Water holes between lava rocks..that sounds perfect!

Anonymous said...

I got swept in an undertow in North Carolina when I was 16 and was pulled almost 1/2 a mile before the ocean spit me back onto the beach - my lack of swimming skills saved me because I just went with the current.

Ever since then, I have been afraid of the ocean, so no snorkeling for me - but I do love to fish!

Sorry it was so gray out - it does look cold!

Mari said...

One of the things that I hate about not knowing how to swim is that I will never get a chance to snorkel =/ I will live through you lol

Gina; The Candid RD said...

Sounds like fun!! Of course, I HATE cold water, but I love new adventures, especially when they involve something as fun as snorkeling!

I do have a question for you, and don't take offense to this because I'm really just curious. Why are you a vegetarian? I guess I always assume most people are vegetarians because they really don't like the idea of killing animals, but then you talk about bull fights, which confuses me. NOT that I'm against bull fights, at all, nor am I against killing animals for food (that sounds awful, but I mean, I eat meat!!). But I am curious as to why you are a vegetarian. Have you talked about this before??

Shannon said...

I love snorkeling! We have taken a couple of trips to Belize and snorkeling is always on the agenda. The second largest barrier reef is there (second to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia), so there are amazing fish and sting rays and sharks!

Simply Life said...

I've only tried snorkeling once and was pretty awkward :)

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